Old Mill's Michelle Salmon, a 5-foot-3, 125-pounder, doesn't look like much of a threat -- but she's murder whenever she's near a soccer ball.
"It's like the ball is meat and I'm the lion," Salmon said.
"I want it so bad that I just go after it."
Yesterday's 4-1 victory over visiting South River was the second straight game in whichthe 14-year-old sophomore scored three goals. She tallied with 17 minutes, 24 seconds and 16:55 left to go in the first period to all butsecure Old Mill's 11th win in its last 12 games.
Salmon was waiting at the far post when Lisa Gallicchio booted Old Mill's fourth corner kick her way. She tapped it into the corner to the right of keeperDiana Niland. Less than 30 seconds later, Salmon's 30-yard volley floated in from the left, just below the crossbar and over Niland's outstretched hands.
Old Mill (2-0), which outshot the Seahawks, 17-1,in the first half -- and 50-4 for the game -- had a 3-0 halftime lead after senior Teri Lee tallied her second goal of the season with six minutes left.
Lee had 11 goals and eight assists last year, second to Salmon's 17 and three.
South River's lone goal came midway through the period when a Patriots defender misplayed a Renee Howard cross into her own goal. Reserve goalie Jackie Bardelli dove for the ball but was too late to make the grab. Salmon netted her third goal moments later.
The Patriots, who bombed Queen Anne's, 5-1, Monday for their first victory, might be the county's hottest team going and are widely favored to dethrone three-time Class 4A/3A state champion and Friendship Division rival Severna Park.
Severna Park improved its winning streak to 40 games with last year's 2-1 state championship win over Oakland Mills. The Falcons have a 47-0-1 record over threeyears.
Coach Hillory Dean's Seahawks (1-1) had surpassed his expectations with their season-opening 1-0 overtime victory over North County but couldn't make the jump to the Patriots' level this early in the season.
Salmon, Lee and midfielders Amy Tolley, Cindy Parulis and Stacy Himes set a short-passing, cross-field switching pace that the Seahawks simply could not match.
"They were two-touch passing the whole game. They were talking and played good ball all the way around," said Dean, whose Bay Division squad hopes to reverse last year's 3-9 record.
"We got a lesson in good soccer today. We'll go home and learn from it."
South River had little success against a defense of senior Jennifer Bostak and juniors Gallicchio, Lori Lynch andNickki Matters. The Seahawks' lone first-half shot floated safely into the arms of keeper Amy Drapalski in the closing minutes.
Drapalski was replaced by Bardelli, a 6-foot sophomore, early in the secondhalf.
"We knew we could win if we could pass the ball well," saidOld Mill coach Bruce Sponsler, who is in his seventh season. "We watched South River dominate North County, but our girls played just theway we wanted to."
His squad was the last team to defeat Severna Park, 2-0, in the 1987 regional final en route to its second straightstate crown. And the victory over the upstart Seahawks resumes Sponsler's hopes of similar success this year.
But the Patriots don't meet the Falcons until Oct. 22, and Sponsler has tough meetings with North County (Sept. 27), Broadneck (Oct. 4) and Meade (Oct. 17) beforethen.
Last year's Patriots (11-4) had won nine straight games, outscoring their rivals, 31-3, before losing, 4-2, to 4A-3A runner-up Oakland Mills in the state semifinal game.
Included in the streak was the Patriots' 5-0 win over North Carroll for the Region II title -- Old Mill's third regional title in five appearances.
Lee had given her squad a 1-0 lead over the Scorpions with 14 minutes left in the first half, but the Howard Countians rebounded to end the Patriots'season.
"We'd like to have that game back, but we know we can't,"Lee said. "But we do think this is our year to make it to the statesand win it."